Archive for the ‘Baroque Art’ Category

Caravaggio – Most influential painter from Baroque

Monday, October 19th, 2009


I  believe that one of the most influential, if not the most influential painter of the Baroque period was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, although his artistic career  did not last more than ten years. This was a man with a great gift, but he was consumed by anger and as the saying goes, “Anger is just one letter short of danger.”  He died at a relatively young age because of his penchant for facing danger, and confronting others. Still, it is said that what there is of his work is “The beginning of Modern Painting.”

He was born in Milan to a household administrator, and decorator, and at some point in his early life, he was moved to Caravaggio to avoid the atrocities of the plague.  In 1584 he became an apprentice to Simone Perzano who had been an apprentice to Titlan.  His work is said to have been influenced by Giogione, and even Davinci.

After this period he found himself in Rome and in need of a job. That is when he began to work under Giuseppe Cesari, doing background work, like that of painting flowers and such. During that period there were three paintings of his that stood out and it was these paintings which brought him more work: A Boy with a Basket of Fruit, Young Sick Bachus, and Small Boy Peeling Fruit. These were the paintings which demonstrated his keen ability to portray realism and emotion.

He soon left Cesari but made some very influential friends with the painter Prospero Orsi, the architect Onorio Longhi and the artist Mario Minniti. These three people began to introduce him to influential collectors of the time.  The commissions began to come in, and his emotional realism stood out when he portrayed religious themes such at the Penitent Magdalene, a Sacrifice of Isaac,  A Saint Francis of Assisi and others.

Had he continued in the art world, his style and realism would have continued to enchant collectors. Unfortunately Caravaggio did not handle fame well, he was known to work for a couple of weeks, and then spend months going from ball to ball instigating fights.

At one point he had to flee Rome with a price on his head. In the end it was this love of danger which killed him. He died in a sword fight. Because his art career was so short lived, he was forgotten in the centuries following his death, only to be remembered again in the 20th century, as the very father of the Baroque movement.

What Influenced the Baroque Movement?

Monday, September 28th, 2009

There are many things that inspired the Baroque artists. This period was man’s first “modern age” of art, so there was a certain freedom that these artists had to express themselves, and this freedom had really never existed prior to this time. Artists were now able to express their emotions, and their reality. This period was a turning point for humanity. It was a time when there was more awareness of  people, surrounding, nature and the world.  The world was expanding and scientific discoveries were influencing the art and the times. Galileo’s investigations of the planets accounted for the painting of many astronomical motifs of the time.  Landscapes began to become popular as people realized that there was more to the world than just the church and themselves.  World trade began to be portrayed in the exotic themes that many artists of the time chose.

At the time the Roman Catholic Church greatly influenced art and influenced the movement in its attempts to combat the spread of the protestant movement. Even politics influenced the baroque movement. The greatness of the Spanish and French kingdom influenced the grandeur of the movement. As mentioned before there were many influences in the Baroque period and it was an awakening for many societies and many artists.

The Most Representative Painting of the Baroque Period

Monday, June 29th, 2009

One of the paintings that best represents the Baroque period would have to be the Flight into Egypt, which was painted in 1597 by Caravaggio. The Baroque period distinguished itself by adding modern images to biblical historical scenes and in this painting Caravaggio demonstrates his great ability to do just that.

This painting does not represent just one biblical scene, but a combination of many of the bibles stories that involve the fleeing of the Holy family into Egypt, to avoid the ire of Herod, who was trying to kill the Christ child.  In the painting Caravaggio chose to paint Mary asleep with the baby Jesus, and Joseph stands holding a manuscript that is given to him by the angel. The manuscript represents the modern man.  The angel stands to the side and is singing a hymn to Mary on the violin, the violin being an instrument of the 1600s and non existent during Christ’s period.

By adding features like the violin and the manuscript Caravaggio has managed to make this biblical story more modern, something that the Baroque man can identify with. This was Caravaggio’s first large scale work, the painting epitomizes the Baroque period because of the nature of the work, the tones, the shift in dark and light shadowing, and the realistic modern subjects. Much of Caravaggios work ranks among the highest as representative of the Baroque period. It is a shame that he was only able to work for about 10 years before being killed.

Rembrandt – Great Baroque Artist

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijin, is one of the greatest painters in art history and probably the most important painter in Dutch history. He was an artist that stylized to perfection the Baroque art movement.  He became especially well know for his portrait work.

In his religious and portrait work he uses every aspect to portray his classic style and Baroque realism, which was the popular movement of the time. But his religious work is noted for the humanity and empathy he showed all human beings. This emotional empathy showed through in all of his biblical themed work. During his lifetime as a painter, he not only produced some of the most important pieces we have of the period, but he also taught every important Dutch painter during his twenty year height as a painter.

He was born in 1606, the ninth child to a miller and a baker’s daughter.  As a youth he became apprenticed to a Leiden history painter and later with Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. After he left his apprenticeship, he opened his own studio in 1624 and in 1627 he began to accept students.

Big commissions did not begin to come in for him until 1629, when he was discovered by a statesman named Constantijn Huygens, who began to bring him important commissions in portraiture.  In 1631 he moved to Amsterdam, and quickly became well known. Among one of his most moving works was the painting he did of his wife, on her death bed in 1642.

Baroque Architecture

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

The Baroque period affected Architecture in the 17th century and began in Italy. This style developed from Renaissance architecture, and developed into a more theatrical style. The objective was to express the triumph of the Catholic Church. Architects became concerned for color, lighting and grandeur in the Baroque style.

The Baroque came about because of the Catholic Church reformation in response to the protestant reformation. The point was to be more emotionally accessibly and yet, portray the grandeur and the power of the Catholic Church.  Later this architectural movement went on to affect the architecture within the nobility too. First it affected the grand palaces of France, and then followed throughout Europe.

Features of Baroque movement include, dramatic use of light, chiaroscuro effects, large scale ceilings on which frescoes are painted, long narrow naves, Ostentatious decorations including gilded ones, and the use of marble, and other faux finishes.

Often the interior of Baroque building were just large areas, which were only to be used to house more painting and sculpture of the period.  The Baroque movement spread quickly throughout Europe and Latin America.  This movement was a way of presenting grandeur for both the church and for the nobility, and today we have many beautiful representations that still exist of the movement.

Photo: Courtesy of R.Duran

Portraits of the Baroque Period

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Baroque Self Portrait - Van DyckOne of  the most noted portrait artist of the Baroque period was Anthony van Dyck, who was born in 1599 and died in 1641. This artist was Flemish by birth but became the leading court painter in England.  He is best known for the portraits of English royalty like King Charles I and members of his family.  Van Dyck, and other portrait artists of the time changed and influenced the art of portrait work for the next 150 years. His paintings were noted for the relaxed style in which the subject was placed, and the contrast between the shadow and the light on the subjects faces.

Each individual is painted in a way in which their personality stands out, The Baroque artists that worked in portraiture were concerned with the inner being and soul of the subject, and tried to portray that in their painting. Paintings were more intense and every detail was observed, and you can see this in the way cloth is rendered and skin is painted with the very texture being seen. This was a very compelling period of art.


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